Success for Bushwick Inlet Park – Now What?
December 2, 2016
On November 22, the Brooklyn waterfront communities of Williamsburg and Greenpoint erupted in cheers at the City’s announcement of a deal to acquire 11 acres known as the CitiStorage site. This stretch of waterfront land, purchased for $160 million after lengthy negotiations with the owner, will allow Bushwick Inlet Park to be created.
It had taken more than a decade of relentless community pressure holding the City to its promise to create the park, proposed as part of rezoning negotiations in the early 2000s. “Thank you!” crowed the Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park, naming every elected official representing the area. “Thanks to all of the volunteers, rally-goers, sign-makers, sidewalk campers, fence decorators, flash-mobbers, petition-signers, tweeters, and FB posters who worked so hard to keep the City honest, and to Brooklyn Community Board #1 and all of the other community organizations that supported us over the past 11 years.”
“We believed in this project,” said Roland Lewis, president and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance. “Kudos to Mayor de Blasio and his team for striking the deal for the final piece of the park puzzle, to the elected officials who stood with their community and worked behind the scenes to make it happen, and to community itself, who never let up the pressure. This was great advocacy for a great cause.”
Now that Bushwick Inlet Park will actually be built, a debate has sprung up about an alternative idea for part of the park that highlights the industrial topography. A group including representatives from the Municipal Arts Society and the Kushner Companies are proposing Maker Park, which would adapt and reuse the deteriorating structures of the Bayside Oil Depot, including ten 50-foot tall cylindrical fuel containers encircled by retaining walls. On December 6, Maker Park advocates will host an event at 64 Dobbin Street in Brooklyn to showcase their ideas.
But a broad coalition comprising at least 20 neighborhood groups, many of whom were involved with pressuring the City since 2005 to make good on its commitment create this park, is not interested in forfeiting any open space and opposes the Maker Park idea.
“We strongly contest your project because it alienates parkland that the community desperately needs,” reads a letter on Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn letterhead to the Maker Park leaders. The letter is signed by 21 heads of community and civic groups, including El Puente, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, North Brooklyn Boat Club, Newtown Creek Alliance, and New Yorkers for Parks. It states that the “project is environmentally unsafe and exposes the community to health risks that the removal and demolition of the oil storage tanks and the warehouse building will avoid… [and] would also use promised open space in manner that would exacerbate the community’s challenges with air pollution, noise pollution and waste water management.”
Referring to the lack of open space in north Brooklyn, the letter’s signatories cite a unanimous vote by Brooklyn Community Board 1 in October 2016, and advocate maximizing parkland to its fullest, which includes removal of the oil storage infrastructure and remediation of the contaminated area.
The City will recommend a remediation and construction schedule, and will finalize the park’s design. For a look at the Bushwick Inlet Park preliminary design and recreation program, which is part of the City’s overall Greenpoint-Williamsburg Open Space Master Plan, click here.